I had a beautiful experience yesterday that rejuvenated my soul and reaffirmed my vision for the future. All day Sunday, I had been surrounded by young people whose focus was on either making money, having a party, or doing both. Long ago, I rejected materialism as a superficial, insatiable, and unsustainable treadmill of want. I also learned along the way that no one ever found anything fulfilling at the bottom of a bottle or the end of a stash. Partying is just a way to numb pain, but it never cures the underlying problem or fills the empty hole. The road to happiness is through love and charity, as the Man in Black once sang. We find peace and contentment from giving of ourselves. Being surrounded by so many lost young people made me feel uncomfortable and out of place for nearly all of Sunday, but yesterday, I met a kindred spirit who touched me deeply.
We had stopped to see Mari’s mother, and while there, I took the opportunity to walk the property because I’ve always enjoyed soaking in other people’s landscaping and gardening. Observation has always been my best learning tool. After I had walked around and seen the entire place, I came to the conclusion that at one point the place, which was comprised of three residences on the same lot, had once been an immaculate yard but had recently fallen into disrepair. I figured it was because of the economy, but when I got back to the house, Mari explained that her mother’s neighbor, Juan, was in his 80’s and had had a heart attack not too far back, so he wasn’t able to do all the things he had once done to maintain the place.
A few minutes later, Juan came out of his home and began fiddling with his weedeater. I liked him instantly because he had kind eyes and a gentle spirit. I asked him if I could help with anything, but he said no, so I sat and watched him for a few minutes. Again, I love observing people because that’s where I learn most of what I know. As I watched him, he eyed me skeptically, the way all older people look at younger generations, that cross between pity and contempt, but he was still polite and kind. We walked across the property, and he began weedeating around a storage building. After a minute, I asked him if I could try out the weedeater, and he obliged. I think he might’ve thought I had never used one before because he was showing me the basics, but once I started trimming along the wall, he stepped back and watched me.
I didn’t have much time and was dressed for the plane ride home, so all I got to do was clear around the building, and when the string ran out, Juan took me over to his garden and showed me the different plants he was growing. Then, he took me to his house and showed me his pet turtle. While we walked and looked about his place, I felt at ease and calm, two rare feelings when my children are not with me. I think he and I shared an understanding of what’s really important in life, and his wisdom and grace comforted me. The truly astonishing thing is that he doesn’t speak English, and I don’t speak Spanish, so we could barely communicate verbally. Nonetheless, I felt a close connection with him, one that transcends culture and language, and one that is found rarely. I will cherish that memory for some time.
Today, I’m getting back to work on the farm. For the rest of this week, I hope to get a lot of work done on the building. I’m going to post some new pictures soon to show the progress we’re making. Please, if you can afford to donate $5-20 to help us get the materials to renovate the building, follow the link to Indie GoGo and click on “Contribute Now.” It’s simple and quick to donate, and you have my guarantee that your contribution will go directly to supplies for the building and nothing else. Thank you.